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Growing on power co right of way  RSS feed

 
Scott Stiller
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Location: North Carolina zone 7
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I'm moving to fifteen acres right in the middle on NC. The local power company has a 200 foot right of way in the front of the property. I already grow sun chokes, and purslane and am thinking about using this "unusable" space to plant more perennials. Any suggestions from my friends here at permies?
 
John Polk
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200 foot right-of-way? Ouch !

In my experience, power companies seem to interpret right-of-way into "we own this land".
Many/most power companies like to use poison sprays as a means of 'managing' their holdings.

Perhaps, it would be wise to go have a chat with somebody with decision making powers at the power company to see not only what their usual practices are, but also to see if they have some flexibility. Many will agree to discontinue spraying as long as you maintain any growth that they object to.

Without some kind of commitment from them, I would be very reluctant to plant any edible plants within their zone. What you or I consider food crops, might look more like "weeds" to them.

Most power company R-O-Ws I am familiar with run along the road - often the property boundary.
If this is the case, a big bag of regional wildflowers would at least make your property beautiful to passer-bys, and hopefully, the power company. They would also serve as attractants for every native pollinator in your region.

 
Ken Peavey
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The wildflowers are an interesting tactic.
In Florida, wildflowers can not be mowed alongside the road until they are out of season, usually around early June. This is a policy that goes back to Mamie Eisonhower. It may be the power companies follow similar guidelines. To get the best answer, contact the power company.
 
Ken Peavey
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I'm in error.
The Highway Beautification Act, aka Lady Bird's Bill, was enacted in 1965.
 
John Polk
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Lady Bird (Johnson) was a very strong advocate for planting wildflowers.
There is a wildflower park in Texas named after her.
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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I'm not experienced with the American rights of way issues, but I'd consider looking at herbaceous perennials, rather than woody ones.

Comfrey, globe artichokes, rhubarb, raspberrys and other canes, horse radish, Jerusalem artichokes, crosnes (Chinese artichokes - grow as a spreading vine, edible tubers), various herbs, Egyptian onions, bunching onions.

Basically you want nice hardy things that, as and when they need to drive vehicles through, you won't have lost too much. All of the above would bounce back if their top growth was damaged. You could also consider using it simply as a mulch source for the rest of your land. Alfalfa once established can be cut multiple times a year, will outcompete a lot of other species and is nitrogen fixing. A 200ft strip could make either excellent animal fodder or a huge amount of mulch. If you were mowing regularly they wouldn't need to spray.

Alternatively, can you graze livestock on it? Perhaps with the aid of a temporary electric fence?

Mike
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
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Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
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I've called my power company about this very issue. The policy here is to leave plants that provide food to wildlife. Anything that would stay under 15 feet was acceptable but it I were planting a hedge, to make it zig zag to allow access to the lines. The person in charge of such things at my power company seemed to be excited about what I was proposing. Calling to get the details from your power company is probably the best place to start.
 
Scott Stiller
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Location: North Carolina zone 7
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I appreciate all the advice. Will certainly follow up with the power company soon after taking up residence.
 
Scott Stiller
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A quick update for you folks. The power company not only will let me plant the ROW, they are pretty thrilled with my plans. The entire ROW is on a pretty severe slope and the soil is terrible. It covers two acres and I'm concerned about erosion. If you guys have any more ideas I'd love to hear them.
 
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